On a season-best five game winning streak with four goals scored in each of their last three games, the Minnesota Wild look to extend their torrid stretch with a visit to the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday.
In a clash of winning streaks Sunday, it was the Wild that extended their run with a 4-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators, who saw their four-game win streak come to an end. Minnesota points leader Kirill Kaprizov was in prime form with a goal and two assists.
“I think just commitment to defense first and just playing the right way. Nothing too fancy, getting pucks in,” said Wild captain Jared Spurgeon, who also scored a goal. “That’s the way we play, and that’s the way when we’re winning games, that’s how we do it. So simplifying our game and every line.”
Kaprizov leads the Wild in both goals scored (19) and assists (23) while compiling his 42 points. Mats Zuccarello had a goal and an assist Sunday and is second on the team with 36 points (14 goals).
But the Wild’s run isn’t just about their offensive exploits. Minnesota has allowed just five goals over the five-game win streak with goalie Filip Gustavsson earning three of the victories by allowing three total goals in those games. Gustavsson is on a personal six-game winning streak.
Marc-Andre Fleury has two victories in goal during the win streak. Gustavsson entered Tuesday’s play fourth in the NHL with a 2.31 goals-against average. Fleury has a 2.94 goals-against average.
Minnesota has won each of the first two meetings against Anaheim this season, the most recent of which was a 5-4 shootout victory at home on Dec. 3. Kaprizov scored the game-tying goal with 2:35 remaining in regulation and also scored in the shootout.
The Wild also earned a 4-1 road victory over the Ducks on Nov. 9 when Kaprizov scored twice on the power play and Gustavsson made 31 saves.
The Ducks enter off a 4-1 defeat against their cross-town rival the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday. That result came after the Ducks were impressive in consecutive road victories against the Montreal Canadiens and Edmonton Oilers, scoring nine combined goals in those games.
Frank Vatrano scored the Ducks’ lone goal Tuesday, while Lukas Dostal made 37 saves in his third consecutive start and fourth game of the season. Goaltenders John Gibson and Anthony Stolarz are dealing with injuries, with a possibility that Olle Eriksson Ek makes his NHL debut in net Wednesday.
Wednesday is the opener of a mammoth 10-game homestand for Anaheim, which won’t see the road again until Jan 16 at Pittsburgh. The back end of the stretch includes games against Eastern Conference powers Boston Bruins and New Jersey Devils.
“It will just be nice to be home,” Ducks forward Adam Henrique said on the Bally Sports West broadcast about the team’s 21 road games so far. “I feel like we’ve been on the road for a lot of the season so far. That can get tough as you go. It’s nice to just get back in front of our home fans and create that identity at home.”
–Field Level Media